Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Children's Group Art Project

My son is in the equivalent of 6th grade in the USA. He goes to a gymnasium, which means he is being schooled for the university route in Austria. 4th grade is a big deal over here because those report cards basically decide if you are university material, plus additional testing...and personal interviews. Stress. At the age of 10. At an older age you can try retesting again to get into a better school, BUT I really think those students are at a disadvantage by then and it is even harder at that point.

The system is that you can only apply to 1 school at a time. And yes, there is official government paperwork to keep track of it all. If your child does not get into the 1st choice of school,  then it is a scramble to see what the availability is at other schools. And after that...well then, your neighborhood school is required to accept students from the neighborhood or the town officials assign a school based on remaining availability.  This is basically my understanding of the whole process.

So, my son got into his 1st choice gymnasium and started last year  This is year 2.  They have a full schedule including lots of Math, German, Biology, Physics, Geometry, etc. It is normal for him to study 12 hours for a Math test.  And English? I can have a full conversation with any of his classmates (age 12) and they hold their own...as a 2nd language. Next year they started French.

Hard core, right? No time for the Arts? Wrong! He still has several hours of gym EVERY week (thankfully). A big outdoor recess every day, plus a smaller pause. The German class is going to a children's production at the theater in a week or so.  He has 3D Art where they make things with clay, wood,  or sew. 

And they still have drawing, painting Art.  I am thankful for all of this because it gives his mind a break from stressfull studies and allows him to relax...and create.

His Art teacher told me that he gets very caught up on smaller details...I would say it is almost a form of meditation for him. He does not have to be the best artist to please the teacher. So no stress! She is looking for involvement and creativity.

Above is a photo of his water color, with details in fine line marker, that he brought back to school today. It is a group project because 2 other classmates will be adding their segments to the picture. Homework in Art!

I am a strong believer of keeping Arts in schools. I read more and more about schools cutting the Arts and I just do not agree! Art is just as important as any other subject. Keeping Art on the schedule does not hold my son's class back in any other subject. I would say they are all doing well. So fight to keep Art in schools!

The Art teacher gave them the picture below for inspiration.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weekend Breakfast

On Friday, my husband and I decided that we would really like a leisurely breakfast on Saturday.  Take time. Set the table. Just enjoy being home and not having to go out on a cold-foggy morning. Letting our son sleep in...but you can see we got him a roll too and he woke up while we were lingering over an extra cup of coffee and joined us.
It is a busy life. Sometimes you just have to schedule in some lingering time. Make it special. Why not? After our nice breakfast, normal, busy life resumed!

My normal breakfast is usually oat cereal with milk and yogurt and 1/2 a banana. If I am in a real rush I will grab a small sandwich. But I always eat breakfast.
The fruit on the table, we often eat for dessert. The oranges are so big! After a meal, we generally share 1 between the 3 of us. 

And that was the extent of my excitement this weekend. Normal life. Go ahead and use the nice dishes!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Feeding a 12 Year Old

Feeding my son is a full-time project.
He goes to school with a sandwich, fruit or pepper strips and something sweet for snack (cookie, appletasche, nußschnecke (think nut filled cinnamon roll) and sometimes nuts too. That is SNACK. He also has a full hot lunch and where he goes to school - they have excellent food. Truly a full meal, including soup.

Today he came home and has griesknockerl soup for a snack. Made with DH'S homemade broth. Then off to sports.
My authentic griessnockerl soup recipe can be found on this blog post from years ago (2006)!

When he got home, he ate an entire container of blueberries while I cooked supper - pictured above. My homemade version of popcorn chicken with rice and veggies. DH and I also had sauteed mushrooms with garlic.

Before bed I am sure he will have a coldcut sandwich with mozerella cheese since we have his favorite fresh bread from the bakery. And who knows what else.

BUT, what really bothers me is that he had a government doctor school check up just before Christmas break. This is not your own family DR, BUT a DR who actually goes to the school to give a check up. And, get this, this DR told my son to try to eat more because he is borderline annorexic??!! What? Please come live with us for 2 days and then tell me that! And people wonder why 12 year olds started being so body self-concious. Geez!

Some photos of various meals  I have made recently... a lot of times I do not take a photos so this is just to give you an idea!  I like to take photos for my "food" album on my phone and when I am stuck for a cooking idea, I will flip through them.  I buy packaged garlic bread BUT only make 1/2 a loaf a meal and that works perfectly for our family of 3. Fresh veggies need to be repeated fairly often before they go bad with a small family, so this past week you can see that it was green beans and mushrooms! Salad goes on a side plate - Son doesn't really like salad but will usually take a 2nd serving of veggies.

Bacon wrapped cheese sausages with fresh green beans, broth potatoes (potatoes that are cooked while we are making our chicken broth for the week, they absorb the flavor of the broth) garlic bread and orange slices. Freshly grated horseradish with mustard too. Green salad on the side for DH and me.

Weißwurst (while sausage that you boil) with carrots and broth potatoes, garlic bread. This is not a meal - this was a weekend snack! BUT really, we usually make broth everything weekend so the potatoes were done and the carrots and wurst really take about 10 minutes. No effort.

Stew. With a boiled dumpling thing?! I am trying to learn some Austrian dishes. You slices the dumpling and serve the stew over.  Different...but good. Still, I am a noodles girl - I ended up making the noodles too.

Kabobs with a yogurt sauce, mixed veggies including brussel sports,  baked potato/ sour cream and garlic bread.
Pork cutlet with a bacon sauce, green beans, garlic bread and spätzel with sauteed mushrooms. Son does not like spätzel so I probably made him spiral noodles or something like that.
A winter lentil soup with noodles,  various left over meats, potatoes, etc.
Steak, baked potato, green beans and sauteed onions/mushrooms.

Tomorrow night we are having baked chicken, so I will roast butternut squash and a head of garlic at the same times to go with.

I try to come up with a varity of food. My favorite food is spaghetti, and we always have that at least 1x a week...usually serve with brocolli...because my son loves brocolli, but not really spaghetti so I figure that balances things out.

The good news is that Son has expressed an interest in learning how to cook. He already make many of his own snacks. Plus, we always have a fruit bowl on the go.  Tomorrow there are no extra activities planned so he can help with preparing dinner. He like to eat good food, so it will be good for him to started learning some simple dishes. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Hand-Knit Stripped Socks

I started these socks mid-October, right after reading a post on Polka Dot Chicken Blog about alternating 2 yarns. I brought them to Vienna in early November, but because I had broken the variegated yarn for the heel...I forgot that ball of yarn. BUT...I had a different ball of sock yarn in my bag, so I put these socks on hold (carefully looping a different colored yarn through the stitches so I could use the knitting needles.

Anyway, I finished the pair of socks I needed those needles for. Or, almost - just have to weave the ends in to finish. So, I had my needles back to finish the stripped pair!  I took them for a 5 mile test hike the other day and they are cozy! A little looser than I am used too because I did not do my stadard K3, P1 rib down to the toe. A rib gives you a better fitting sock. But, I am thinking that after washing they might be a bit snugger.
I have enough yarn left over from both yarns to make another pair. I see Polka Dot Chicken is now playing around with alternating every other row and maybe I will give that a try. But first I want to cast on a different color.

Yarn info: turquoise is 100 grams (3.5 oz) for 7.25€ mixed with FilaBlu Marathon color 100 grams for 6.99€.

To see what everyone else is knitting this week, click on the link to Judy's Patchwork Times blog

The weather here in Austria continues to be unusually warm. We took a drive outside the city today. At 1550 meters, this area is popular for day trip skiers.  There were some families at the restaurant who had booked their Christmas break vacation here for skiing. That is not going to happen anytime soon.  It was 3C up there.